‘Egg hustler,’ Pennsylvania couple renting out coops, work to combat nationwide egg crisis

The nationwide egg shortage and ensuing record price spikes has led Americans to seek alternative means to fulfill their appetite and their baking needs.

One Pennsylvania couple told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” about their “rent-a-chicken-coop” business that has seen more interest as the shortage drags on.

Phil and Jenn Tomkins of Armstrong County co-founded “Rent The Chicken” some years ago, but have more recently seen a boom in business, Carlson reported.

“It has definitely been booming,” Jenn Tomkins said Friday. “But I’ll tell you that in 2020 we thought we were not going to make it. And it turns out people were at home, and they wanted to do something out of the ordinary. So they rented chickens from us.”

“And then 2021 was great. Last year was fantastic. And here we go for 2023. Welcome to the egg-gate.”

Phil Tomkins told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that in his business’ case, there is a $50 deposit for a coop setup, without a permanent commitment: “For the most part, we’ve got super friendly chickens, super healthy chickens that do a great job as rent-the-chicken chickens. They know their roles: laying eggs.”

The USDA recorded egg prices rising as much as 59% in December 2022 year-over-year, according to Forbes, crediting a particularly contagious avian influenza strain that has surpassed the effect of the 2015 outbreak.

A few hundred miles east of the Tomkins, the 107th Pennsylvania Farm Show held its annual expo this past week at its dedicated, sprawling campus on Cameron Street in Harrisburg — but notably lacked on-site poultry exhibitions due to the crisis as well.

“No live poultry, fowl, or eggs will be allowed on site,” blared an all-caps line in a document outlining the state-run show’s competition rules in that particular sector.

“The PA Department of Agriculture has decided to protect Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion dollar poultry industry from the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza by banning poultry and egg exhibitions at the 2023 PA Farm Show,” the document read elsewhere.

On “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson later interviewed a man known as “the egg hustler” in the American South, “basically giving eggs away.”


“I started to give it away for free,” Stephen Gillen said. “I started out — I got a few chickens and … I had more eggs than I could handle. So I started giving away for free. And then it kind of accumulated from there.”

“People started wanting eggs more and more. So then I started selling them, but I still sell them really cheap for the same price. Just to help the locals out and stuff, what have you,” he said.

In conclusion, Carlson said both the egg hustler and the Tomkins prove that there are many great Americans left in the United States during times like these.

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